Malaysia — Malaysia will work closely with Indonesia if necessary to help curb the haze shrouding several states in Malaysia, particularly Johore, a southern state in Peninsula Malaysia.
Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman made this remark here on Thursday, adding that he hoped Indonesia will act fast in dealing with the issue, assuming that the haze had originated from the neighboring country.
However, Anifah stressed that Malaysia had not intended to submit a note of protest to Indonesia as the haze was not anything that was deliberately caused.
Thick haze blanketing the sky of the Johore State has resulted in schools closure in the districts of Muar and Ledang on Thursday, affecting at least 200 schools.
The air pollutant index (API) in Muar shot up to over 400, indicating a hazardous air quality.
The haze has also been enveloping the skies of Malacca, a neighboring state of the Johore State, as well as Singapore.
While many Malaysians put the blame on the uncontrolled forest fires in Indonesia, Anifah said the fires were also occurring in other countries, adding that Indonesia could not be accused of not taking action even if the haze had come from the republic.
Meanwhile, a senior officer from Muar District Health Department told reporters in Muar on Thursday that 11 health clinics there had registered a surge of greater than 100 percent in patients with respiratory problems.
While 307 and 356 patients had received treatment on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, the officer said only 127 and 172 patients sought treatment each day a week ago on Oct. 12 and 13.
The situation in Muar improved significantly following the downpour in the morning of Thursday.
According to the Malaysian Environment Department, the API reading in Muar was 77 as at 5 p.m. Thursday, which is in the range of “moderate”.
The range of 0-50 is considered good, while 101-200 and 201-300 indicate “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” respectively.